how to hack your toms

I've been called a lot of things in my life. I've been called a few choice things behind my back, and I've been called superficial one very special time by one very disgruntled person right to my face in front of a bunch of children. That was fun! This post makes me feel a little superficial, but I think some people might like to know that you can wear TOMS shoes without them screaming "TOMS SHOES!". Well, not really. A TOMS will always look like a TOMS, but maybe it doesn't need to SAY it.

Let's leave politics aside, like I always do here. TOMS has a nice policy where they donate a pair of shoes every time a pair is purchased. But of course, along with philanthropy come the folks who believe that if you give a man a pair of shoes, you'll shoe him for a day, but if you teach a man to make a pair of shoes, you will shoe him for a lifetime. Before you know it you're trying to skim through a whole report like this one from Tiny Spark, trying to figure out if TOMS is doing it all right. I'm going to have faith in TOMS and what they do, and stay out of it. This is a DIY post, for Christ's sake! 

I'm a first time TOMS wearer. At 5'-2" I don't often find myself in flats. TOMS were never on my radar until Stella and I were at the movies a few weeks ago and this pair of wedges caught my eye on another woman in the restroom. I thought, I really need something comfortable to wear this summer, I'll get those and rip the tags off. 

Ripping the tags off ain't so easy! There is an adhesive substance below the back tags that leaves a big mark when the tags are removed, and the side tags can't be fully cut away. So here's how I hacked my TOMS. Let's cobble! 

For the backs, find two appliqués that are fairly thin and can cover the area of the tag (about 1 1/8" wide x 3/4" high). I found these chicken appliqués at a local art supply store. I can't find the exact specification for them, but I'm sure you'll find something you might like more than chickens!

Get in there with tiny scissors or a seam ripper and carefully remove the stitches around the perimeter of the TOMS tags. Peel the tags off, and use a long push pin or needle to pull out remaining thread loops embedded in the shoe. I used the pin to push some thread ends back into the shoe if I couldn't pull them out.

My glue gun is hideous! If you are pretty good with a glue gun and know how to use it without it squirting out everywhere and ruining the shoe fabric, go ahead and use that. I suggest glueing the appliqué in sections so the glue doesn't cool down too much while you're working. If you are less handy with a glue gun, I think fabric glue would be a good way to go.

Press the pre-glued appliqué firmly onto the rear of the shoe, positioned to cover all of the unsightly adhesive and stitching from the original tag. 

Repeat with the other shoe, and that part is done!

To cover the smaller front side tags, there are two approaches. You can cover it with a slightly wider piece of ribbon, like this:

I didn't love this idea. It drew too much attention to the shoe, and the ribbon I used didn't work well with the chickens. So I grabbed me some of these:

These bow appliqués you really might want to find, especially if you're hacking a red pair of TOMS, because the color is almost identical. The best resource I could find for these was a wholesaler called Products From Beyond. Here is the link, and the model number for these I believe is M15652 in color 05. The brand name is La Stephanoise. I picked mine up from a pretty random display at the same place I bought the chickens.

Snip off the side tag as close to the edge as you can. You can unravel a little more of the tag with your fingers, but it won't come all the way out. Position the bow so that it overlaps and obscures the remaining white strip of the tag and affix with hot or fabric glue.

A perfect match! I tried SO hard to take a shot of my shoes from the side or front or back while they were on my feet. I took so many photos, but only came up with this. I need a remote for my camera!

By the way, this isn't the only pair of shoes I've taken a glue gun to. The seam on one of the shoes in the pair below came apart after about a year of wear, but I was able to seal the rip with hot glue and cover that with some cute pompoms I found. Don't be afraid to fix your own stuff! And, have a great weekend! xoxo


  1. Clever as always! I can't deal with labels on things, and this is a great fix.

    1. I should've linked to this post where I was wearing a Marc Jacobs dress which I thought had a nautical/sailboat print on it, but actually just said "Marc Jacobs" all over it. Embarrassing way to show up at a public school morning circle (I got the dress on sale). :)

  2. Luv it - both your segue from superficiality to questioning ethics, as well as your tips on hacking chickens + bows. You give me confidence to finish a hack I started ages ago on a pair of espadrilles. BTW, are the Toms comfy?

    1. Hi Sonya! Hahahaha! You never know on the internet who is going to come up with something and call you out on it, so you have to be prepared! The Toms are comfy, and I'm looking for lots of comfy shoes as I unfortunately am getting into serious bunion territory lately. TMI. xoxoxoxo


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